What are some examples of parental love in The Road by Cormac McCarthy?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, this whole novel in a sense is a testament to the love that the father has for his son. Note how the behaviour of the mother is juxtaposed with the attitude of the father. The mother, losing hope, only ends her own life, and does not try to ensure a future for her son. The father, by contrast, remains with his son, even when there appears to be little hope of any future whatsoever, and tries to prepare him for an uncertain future. That is love and dedication. The father is a character who is presented as having one goal in his life: to do everything he can to look after and protect his son and to give him hope in a hopeless world. Even as he is just about to die, the father shows his love of his son by giving him advice and trying to encourage him:

You need to go on, he said. I cant go with you. You need to keep going. You dont know what might be down the road. We were always lucky. You'll be lucky again. You'll see. Just go. It's all right.

He makes reference to the need to "carry the fire" of hope and humanity inside of him as he ventures on alone. The relationship of the boy and the father represents a relationship of love in a loveless world, as the only other relationships that we are presented with in the novel are ones of profound exploitation, as the strong use (and eat) the weak.

kstallworth | Student

The father, from the beginning and to the very end of his life, sets an example for his son of goal-oriented consistency, pragmatic benevolence, and resourcefulness.  The father allows the son to feel and voice is feelings, validating them as authentic and worthy.

Even in their despiration, the father relishes his son's innocence and sense of wonder in new things, like when they partake of the buried food stores and the son experiences the taste of a carbonated beverage for the first time.

He gives his son as sense of confedence and hope by demonstrating an attitude of optomism and resiliency no matter what or who they encounter.



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The Road

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